When Scotland’s economic performance is benchmarked, it is often against the UK economy. However, the Sustainable Growth Commission’s report – published last Friday – says we need to be more ambitious and learn lessons from Denmark, Finland & New Zealand.
Small economies consistently perform better than large ones and we already share many of the characteristics of other successful small advanced economies, with strong institutions and levels of social capital, human capital and knowledge, valuable resources (oil and gas, renewables, food, tourism), and proximity to large, prosperous markets.
The report finds that an independent Scotland would start as one of the wealthiest countries in the world, with a similar level of GDP per capita as New Zealand, France and Japan.
It’s long been clear that Scotland – and especially the Highlands & Islands, the region I represent – have different migration needs compared to the rest of the UK.
We need more people to come here, and it is frustrating to have had to fight many cases where the UK Home Office sought deportation of families making a positive impact in local communities.
For that reason, I am delighted that The Sustainable Growth Commission’s report has set out a “Come to Scotland” package as one of its key recommendations for growing the economy, by incentivising inward investment and driving population growth.We need investors, entrepreneurs and a skilled workforce to achieve our potential.
The proposal, which is tailor-made for Scotland’s social and economic needs, is in contrast to the UK Tory Government’s hostile approach to migration, which presents significant barriers to attracting the talent and investment that Scotland’s economy needs to reach its potential.
It is a fact that those born outside the UK who have made Scotland home for their businesses, their research or their families are significant net contributors to our economy and public finances – we need more of this. Our aging demographic in the Highlands and Islands and the impact Brexit is likely to have on us make it more urgent.
It is clear that there is a great appetite for the independence debate, despite what some Political leaders might be saying! This was evident in ‘The Gathering’ this weekend that brought to together an assembly of committed Pro-Indy activists. This was the largest and most successful of its kind ever attempted. I hear from those attending that the Gathering was a game-changer, now that the grassroots are organised and networked, the momentum will be unstoppable.
As the debate on Independence thrives in Scotland, we must be aware of the language and behaviour. The Indy Pledge is a grassroots code of conduct asking each individual to think about how our behaviour and words affect the Yes movement. As the pledge states; Independence starts with our movement and we must reflect the Scotland that we want to be: A positive Scotland, a diverse and respectful, a peaceful, equal and inclusive Scotland. It starts with each and every one of us. Sign the pledge and help build the positive Yes movement.
This is a fortnightly column by local MSP Maree Todd, SNP.